golden apple January 6 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today's Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Job 4, 5, 6, 7

Appropriate Words

Perhaps you meant well. You came to visit someone who was sick or in trouble. You thought your words would comfort him or her, but you spoke the wrong words at the wrong time. Has this ever happened to you? You might make one of these two responses at times like this:

• You “kick” yourself for being so insensitive by speaking harsh words.

• You defend yourself. You bray and kick like a donkey when challenged.

Let's hope that your response is the first response. Proverbs 25:11 (NIV) says, “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” When we choose the appropriate words for the appropriate times, what we say will be effective, a great encouragement, and a beautiful expression of love. How can we know when and what words to speak? We can know by prayer and by sensitive observation and listening.

Job is a patriarch, living just before the time of Abraham (more...). God allows Satan to take away everything which he holds dear in order to tempt him to curse his Creator. After losing all his wealth, family, servants, and respect, Job remains faithful. Satan is then allowed to afflict his health so this godly man might curse the Almighty. Job is afflicted with boils, a miserable disease. Apparently, there are no doctors or remedies. He suffers greatly and is in anguish with the pain.

Three of his friends come to comfort him. After sitting in silence for seven days and then listening to Job express his agony and despair, one of Job's friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, can no longer keep quiet. He has a word to speak which he thinks comes from some heavenly being.

Dreams were significant in the days of the patriarchs (the first fathers of the faith). At that time the Bible had not been written down, and God was known to speak through night visions. But how could Job's friend be sure it was the Almighty speaking? Are all dreams from him? No; Satan is a deceiver. He appears to Eliphaz in a dream, scaring him half to death, and whispers to him when he is asleep: “Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can a man be more pure than his Maker?” (Job 4:17, NIV). The supernatural being does nothing to calm Eliphaz's fear, as angels of God who appear to men often do (Genesis 15:1; Matthew 1:20).

How does Eliphaz reply to Job? After complimenting Job on his kindness, integrity and righteousness (always a good start to soften someone up), Eliphaz asks “Consider now: Who, being innocent, has ever perished? Where were the upright ever destroyed?” (Job 4:7, NIV). Eliphaz implies that Job must not be innocent or God would not punish him–God only punishes the guilty. His friend continues, “Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty” (Job 5:17, NIV). Eliphaz implies that the reason Job is suffering is because the Almighty is disciplining him. While these two thoughts are often true in people's lives, they are not always true.

What is Job's response? In his grave illness Job replies,

If only my anguish could be weighed and all my misery be placed on the scales! It would surely outweigh the sand of the seas-- no wonder my words have been impetuous. The arrows of the Almighty are in me, my spirit drinks in their poison; God's terrors are marshaled against me (Job 6:1-4, NIV).

Job confesses the words he utters are spoken out of pain. Job cannot even eat food; it makes him ill (Job 6:7).

Job desires loyalty from his friends. He says, “A despairing man should have the devotion of his friends, even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty” (Job 6:14, NIV). But his friends are undependable when a crisis comes. He continues, “Now you ... have proved to be of no help; you see something dreadful and are afraid” (Job 6:21, NIV). Isn't this what happens to us? We should speak encouraging words but instead we give advice. Or, we are afraid we might have to make some sacrifices to help. Don't worry, Job consoles, I am in a bad circumstance, but I am not going to ask you for any money. Job is not eliciting help; he is being honest with them (6:28-30). He sees no sin in expressing lament over his calamity.

Is it wrong to lament misfortunes? Some Christians think so, but consider some famous Bible characters who grieved over their situations:

  • David mourned the loss of King Saul and his son Jonathan when they died.
  • Jonah was greatly distressed over his rebellious behavior while in the belly of the great fish.
  • Jeremiah cried over the pitiful state of Jerusalem when his people were taken into captivity.
  • Habakkuk cried out to God as the nation of Judah was about to be attacked by the ruthless Babylonians and taken into exile.
  • Jesus took up a lament regarding Jerusalem (Matthew 23:37).
Is it wrong to grieve misfortunes? No, we are made in the image of God, which means we each have a mind, will, and emotions. The LORD wants us to be honest with him and others.

Lessons to Live By

• Are you suffering? God can bring you comfort or help you through it. He can give you forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life (more...).

• Be kind when others are suffering trouble. Remember even unfaithful sounding words might be words spoken out of pain.

• We may not know what to say, but sympathize, don't criticize.

• Listen, don't lecture.

• It is not wrong to express our grief; it is part of our God-given nature.

•  Choose your words carefully and speak them at the right time. Otherwise, have the wisdom to remain silent and pray.

golden apples accrostic

Today's Bible Memory Verse

Proverbs 25:11 (NIV) “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”

Samples of encouraging words:

Sympathize: I am sure this hurts. I can't imagine the pain you are going through now.

Physical Touch: Let me give you a hug.

Intercessory support: I am praying for you.

Assuring words: I care about you; you are important. Do you know how special you are to God and how much he loves you?

Support: I am here for you.

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A Look Ahead: How do we Endure Tough Times? Find out in our Next Lesson.

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